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John Gastil Portrait


Communication Arts & Sciences and Political Science Senior Scholar, the McCourtney Institute for Democracy
The Pennsylvania State University


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Topic Map

Research Topic Map Civil society and protest groups Communication in small groups The Australian Citizens' Parliament Jury behavior The Democracy Machine (online platform) The Group in society Democracy in Small Groups Civic Engagment The Jury and Democracy Group Decision Making Governance Theory and Practice of deliberative democracy Political Communication and Deliberation Delib. Democracy Handbook Democracy in Motion By Popular Demand The Citizens' Initiative Review Public forums, civic education, political socialization Direct Democracy
Sortition as an alternative to elections Public opinion and civic attitudes Public Opinion and Atts. Elections Cultural Cognition Project Voter Behavior, election dynamics, and campaings

Sortition as an alternative to elections

I have written about random selection in political processes in numerous writings, including my books Democracy in Small Groups, The Group in Society, and By Popular Demand. More recently, however, I have participated in serious discussions about using “sortition,” a process that relies on random selection to fill public offices.

My first writing on the subject was an op-ed, which I co-authored with a diverse group of sortition advocates. “Imagine a Democracy Built on Lotteries, Not Elections” appeared in the online magazine Zocalo: The Public Square. The essay was reprinted in various outlets around the globe, including the Sydney Morning Herald, where it was retitled, “Why not select politicians as randomly as jurists?

Currently, I am working with Erik Olin Wright on a new volume in the Real Utopias book series, which will address this idea in greater detail.

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